WCSU in the Age of Reason

Paul Steinmetz writes about Western Connecticut State University

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Must go to faculty author reading. Repeat: Must go …

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Part of my job is to plan events on campus, a task for which I was once woefully unprepared.

You would think that a newspaper editor, in charge of bringing a new product from concept to street corner every day of the year, would be good at planning other types of happenings, most of which are much less complicated.

You would be wrong. One day, while recovering from an especially dismal failure here, I analyzed the situation and figured out that at the newspaper, everyone else was doing the work. Sometimes I would assign or kill a story, tweak a headline, change a sentence around, and then I would take the credit for the whole operation. If the paper didn’t get to subscribers on time any given morning, I would blame the circulation department.

Soon after I arrived at Western, I was assigned the task of planning a ribbon cutting for a new parking garage. I ordered fancy invitations, which took too long to print and they arrived late. The one thing you really want at a ribbon cutting is a big audience to listen to the dignitaries, which in this case someone else had put together. I scrambled to assemble a crowd. My wife showed up, but she was lonely.

I think of my early efforts every time I plan an event.

The next one is coming up at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30, in Warner Hall. As part of Banned Books Week, which we celebrate annually on campus, I organize a reading by WCSU faculty who have published books in the past year.

Each author reads from his or her book and talks for a few minutes about the process of writing, reporting and of actually becoming an author.

Here are this year’s authors and their books:

• Dr. Edward Hagan, professor in the department of writing, linguistics and creative process, “Goodbye Yeats and O’Neill: Farce in Contemporary Irish & Irish-American Narratives”
• Dr. Jane Gangi, associate professor in the instructional leadership program, “Deepening Literacy Learning: Art and Literature Engagements in K-8 Classrooms”
• Dr. Fred Maidment, associate professor in the management department, “Annual Editions: Human Resources, Management, and International Business”
• Dr. Bozena M. Padykula, assistant professor of nursing, “Giving through Teaching: How Nurse Educators are Changing the World”

Some of you are thinking you would rather go to a parking garage ribbon cutting, but in fact these faculty author readings are interesting, which makes it easier to deliver a decent crowd.

In past years, professors have discussed what excites them about teaching, and how they learned to use technology in the nursing lab, for instance. Others read their poetry or explained the history of jazz in New York. We have one professor who is a for-real best-selling author: Dr. Kevin Gutzman wrote “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution,” which gets him frequent air-time on radio talk shows. You might not normally pick up a book on any of those topics, but whether they are famous or not, our faculty share a passion for their work that is not common. I could listen all day to people talk about what they love to do.

That’s why you should join us at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30 in Warner Hall. If you are attending from off-campus, park in the lot next to Old Main. Here is a campus map.

We will serve cookies. And you’ll get to meet my wife.

Follow Western Connecticut State University at www.wcsu.edu

Paul Steinmetz

7 Responses

  1. Kate Mrotek says:

    I’m so glad that my professor asks her students to read your blog Mr. Steinmetz. I am very much looking forward to being a part of this crowd next week. All of the professors in the Writing program that I have had are extraordinarily gifted and skilled writers. And it’s something a little different, a little more intimate to hear your professors work, then to read a strangers. Really can’t wait.

  2. Amanda says:

    The way you start this blog pulls the reader in because in some way they can relate to what you went through with planning an event. Whenever I saw the fliers for the “Banned Books Week,” it always made me think back to the movie “Footloose” with the burning of books and the banning of music/dances. I thought “Banned Books Week” was about exacting what the title states, banned books. Regardless, I thought it was interesting to house an event on books which were banned. After reading you’re blog about it, I became more intrigued. I think it’s fascinating to go see professors talk about books they have written themselves. I look forward to hearing their stories.

  3. Khaliah says:

    I feel ashamed to say that I was not fully aware of what “Banned Books Week” was actually about. However, after reading this article I think it is great that the students get a chance to listen to their professors discuss their books and their writing processes. As a writing major, I am always intrigued to here about different writing styles and processes. Also, I think being that the author’s are our professors, it hits closer to home, and it makes our dreams seem more obtainable.

  4. Kevin Carneglia says:

    As a writing major at Western, it’s always interesting for me to hear experienced authors speak about the process of writing and publishing books. It also interested me to read about the planning that goes into these events, something I think most students take for granted. I am glad to see that this event is getting good publicity and hope other students will take the time to attend as well.

  5. Kevin Busch says:

    The Banned Books week festivities sound interesting, including the faculty readings. I sometimes think that WCSU students do not appreciate how many faculty members have written published works, and that their knowledge extends far beyond basic classroom lectures about textbook material. The variety of topics that the faculty readers will cover is pretty vast, and so I hope that will be able to attract a good turnout.

  6. Rachael W. says:

    I agree. I’m interested in what these books have to do with Banned Books Week, but I’m sure they have something important to teach students.I believe it’s important for professors to share their passions with their students. At Dr. Gutzman’s lecture, “Who Killed the Constitution?” you could see how much he enjoyed speaking about the constitution. Students need to see and understand this. I think it makes them want to find something they want to be excited about as well.

  7. Kareena D. McCalla says:

    Although none of these readings would have grabbed me otherwise, I will be attending this event. Sometimes, I believe, we don’t realize just how much banned books our society has deemed as such. And I just raise a question, why ban a book when, as our Constitution outlines as a basic human right, the freedom of speech. These ‘banned books’ are a basis for which lessons are taught, ideas are formed and supported. They intrigue and explore. Despite being ‘banned,’ I hope we can all find a reason to attend the readings and see the power of their intrigue.